Mining for lithium could start in the Czech Republic in two years, exploiting Europe’s largest resource of the metal that is used in batteries for electric vehicles and home power storage.
The deposits lie around Cinovec, a village with a tradition of mining since the 14th century and situated near the border with Germany, the industrial powerhouse at the heart of Europe’s bid to build electric cars and develop battery technology.
The resource, a term used for a deposit whose extent has yet to be proven by exploration, could amount to 1.3 million tonnes, or about 3 percent of the global lithium stock, according to the Czech Geological Survey.
That would rank the Czech Republic behind Chile, China, Argentina, Australia and other nations with bigger lithium reserves. But surging global demand and hungry European industry are sparking international interest in the Czech deposits.
European Metals Holdings Ltd (LON:EMH) has dug exploratory shafts and plans to spend $393 million to develop the site near Cinovec, a village surrounded by forests and meadows and showing scars of surface mining for lignite that once employed many people in the area. The region now has the Czech Republic’s highest jobless rate.
The permitting process is going along as it should be, everything is happening in an orderly fashion, European Metals Managing Director Keith Coughlan told Reuters.